Written By: Andrew Garison
TDU was full of excitement and killer tunes on Friday, October 18, when Strong Water and 90’s Kids took the stage. The two bands kicked off UPB’s series of monthly concerts, Spotlight Sounds. Even though they played different genres, they were still able to keep the crowd of energetic students rocking.
Strong Water was the first band to take the stage. They are an Americana and folk band located right here in Harrisonburg. The lead singer, Greg Brennan used to perform at open mic nights in TDU before the whole band was put together. Despite playing mostly acoustic instruments, Strong Water had a full and powerful sound that took over the whole room.
The group played mostly original songs but mixed in a few covers from other bands of their genre, like The Head and the Heart and The Civil Wars. The one oddity of the night was a surprise cover of Weezer’s 1994 hit “Say it Ain’t So.” The reason? It has the same chord progression as Strong Water’s original track “Reaper.” The band added Weezer’s song to their setlist as a lead–in to their track and as a way to have fun on stage.
Strong Water’s Virginia roots come through clearly in their songwriting. The song Tuscarora is all about living in the Shenandoah Valley and the beauty of the natural landscapes. In general, the group sticks to the folk tradition in terms of sound and style, but they still have an edge. The group is able to perform happy, up-beat tracks and slow, somber tracks with the same level of intensity and emotion. For students that really dug the band, they had a small merch stand set up.
The next band up was 90s Kids. Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, 90’s Kids brought a fun, bubbly, pop-rock sound to the TDU stage. The group was reminiscent of The 1975 in terms of sound and aesthetic. Their songs included a lot of jangly guitar riffs and some interesting keyboard and synth lines as accompaniment. 90’s Kids played all the songs they created during their two years as a band, including their newest single “Body Language.” They even managed to surprise students with a cover of pop icon Billie Eilish’s song “Bad Guy.”
Though they had a different sound, 90’s Kids brought just as much energy to the stage as the first band. All through their set, the band members were dancing to their music, and smiling at each other and the crowd. “This is our first-ever college show,” the lead singer announced to the crowd. “We are so excited to be here.”
The energy from the night’s acts was infectious, and many students were still talking about the performances after the show had ended. “90’s Kids was definitely my favorite,” said freshman Theater major Meg Morrison. “I’m a huge alt-rock fan!”
Some students were indecisive and could not pick a favorite. Jacob Christian, a freshman Nursing major, thought both bands were amazing, but, “they had two completely different vibes. I don’t think I can choose just one.”
Strong Water is a Harrisonburg band so you may have a chance of catching them at any number of local venues. UPB puts on a Spotlight Sounds show once a month, so if you missed this one make sure you stop in for the next performance. For more information follow this link: https://info.jmu.edu/upb/events/